One in six Canadians (17%) in the 55-plus age group – a figure that represents upwards of 1.8 million people – say that they or someone else in their household have taken prescription drugs in a way other than prescribed because of cost, finds a study conducted by Angus Reid Institute.
One-in-ten (10%) have decided to simply not fill a prescription because it was too expensive, and a similar number (9%) have decided not to renew one for the same reason. One-in-eight (12%) have taken steps to stretch their prescriptions, such as cutting pills or skipping doses.
Medical devices such as hearing or walking aids also represent a cost challenge for many aging Canadians. Nearly three-in-ten (28%) who have such a device in their household say they have opted to delay purchasing a new one because of cost.
One-in-six Canadians 55 and older (16%) have used cannabis for medical purposes, and almost three-quarters (73%) of those who used it say it worked.
A related Angus Reid study finds more than 2 million Canadians aged 55 and older face significant barriers when accessing the health care system in their province, such as being unable to find a family doctor or experiencing lengthy wait-times for surgery, diagnostic tests, or specialist visits.
Atlantic Canadians ages 55 and older are more likely than those living in other regions to have major issues accessing health care, as well as to perceive their provincial health care systems as deteriorating.
Atlantic Canada has the highest proportion of older residents with major access issues at 35 per cent, 10 percentage points higher than the next highest proportion, in Quebec. The percentage for Ontario is the lowest at 17 per cent while British Columbia is second lowest at 19 per cent.